Professor James Mark

Humanities History professor wins £1 million prestigious research award

Professor James Mark, has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Leadership Award (2014 – 2019) of 974,056 pounds to address the way in which the fall of state socialism in Europe, and the transition that followed, has come to be understood both in the region which experienced these events, and in the wider world. The Award is given to emerging research leaders in their fields, and is a significant feat that builds on the College’s trend of recent research successes.

The project is titled ‘1989 after 1989: Remembering Revolution in a Globalised World’. Although ‘1989’ quickly became understood as a watershed moment in standard accounts of modern history, both elite and social interpretations of its meaning and relevance are diverse. In more than two decades since, the meaning of this change has become a source of contestation. Whilst the 1989 moment has been promoted as a ‘founding story’ for a newly unified Europe, those who experienced this transformation have come to understand it in many different ways, as a moment of, variously, liberation, betrayal, victory, disappointment, loss, colonisation, or nostalgia.

The project also considers the representation and impact of the collapse of European state socialism globally, examining the ways in which liberal readings of state socialism’s demise have become an important part of a western identity, and how the collapse has been addressed in places where state socialism survived, such as China or Cuba. Focussing on how different stories and conceptualisations of ‘the Fall’ have spread locally, nationally and globally, this research will also analyse how memory is produced in a globalised world, and examine the uses of history in different political systems.

Professor Mark comments “I’m very excited to be starting a project that further reinforces Exeter as an excellent place to be doing work on socialism, modern Europe, and the global spread of ideologies. The recruitment of talented early career scholars, and PhD students, will add to the resources we already have in these areas.”

The Leverhulme Trust was established in 1925 under the Will of the First Viscount Leverhulme with the instruction that its resources should be used to support “scholarships for the purposes of research and education.” The Trust now provides funding for research projects, fellowships, studentships, bursaries and prizes.

Two three-year PhD studentships, and three five-year associate research fellowships, are offered to work on this project. Applications are welcome not only from those who wish to work on Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union, but also those interested in the representations and impact of this historical shift across the world.

Professor Andrew Thorpe, Associate Dean of Research and Knowledge Transfer for the College of Humanities comments: “The Leverhulme Trust’s action in making a Research Leadership Award to Professor James Mark is fantastic news all round. These awards are incredibly competitive, and it reflects James’s current status, his immense potential, and the intellectually compelling nature of his project. It is also yet another indication of the excellence of History, and of the Humanities and Social Sciences more broadly, at Exeter.” 

For more information on the PhD studentships (application deadline 30 June), please see the funding webpages or for more information on the five-year associate research fellowships (application deadline 3 July), see the Exeter jobs pages.

Date: 7 June 2013

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